12-1 Simon Gratz (24-6) vs. 1-3 Lower Merion (24-7), at Norristown, 3 p.m. On paper, this contest is a classic example of contrasting styles. It could also end up being the best game of the tournament. The Bulldogs can run or play at a methodical pace. To win, they need to avoid turnovers and unnecessary three-point attempts. The Aces are sure-handed and love to make foes come and get them. Greg Robbins, a 6-4 sophomore, is a man-child, but could be slowed by 6-5 Ishmawiyl McFadden. Lower Merion wins on another buzzer-beater.
3-1 Harrisburg (27-2) vs. 1-2 Plymouth Whitemarsh (28-3), at Reading's Geigle Complex, 3 p.m. Last year the Cougars bounced the Colonials in a low-scoring first-round game. This time around, PW is the stronger defensive unit. Marquisse Boggs and Anthony Minor can get after it. Senior guard Mike Acquaviva, who didn't make the trip for the Colonials' second-round win over Altoona because of the flu, is expected to play. Harrisburg, however, is as deep as they come. The Cougars squeak by.
1-1 Springfield, Delaware County (22-7) vs. 3-3 James Buchanan (25-4), East Pennsboro HS, Enola, 3:30 p.m. UMBC-bound guard Frank McKnight is the closest thing the Cougars have to a headliner. He can create on his own, but loves to share the load. Back where James Buchanan comes from (Mercersburg), the Rockets are being labeled as giant slayers after knocking off last year's state runner-up Communications Tech in the first round and District 2 champion Crestwood in the second round.Today, the Cougars win.
12-1 Prep Charter (24-4) vs. 3-1 York Catholic (25-6), Reading's Geigle Complex, 1 p.m. Two years ago, Prep Charter had its season ended by York Catholic in the second round of the playoffs. Last year the Huskies erased those demons by topping the Irish in the semifinals before claiming a state crown. The three-play features Marcus (6-9) and Markieff Morris (6-10) as centerpieces for Public League champ Prep Charter. A group of sophomore Huskies are brimming with talent. For York Catholic, senior forward Jon Showers is the Irish's best all-around player. The methodical Irish prevail.
2-1 Bishop Hoban (30-0) vs. Imhotep Charter (21-7), Freedom HS, Bethlehem, 5 p.m. Although I'm sticking with my original pick of Hoban, if I could switch one selection it would be in this game. Imhotep is playing as if it's on a mission. In two first-round breezes, their play has been workmanlike from the tap. Forwards Kashief Edwards (Niagara), Tamir Johnson (Central Connecitcut State) and Jermaine Washington (CCS, also) lead. Hoban is balanced and has a front line (Amir Bey, Owen Wignot and Matt Choman) that rivals Imhotep's in size. The Argents survive.
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